Multi-million dollar mistake for Reading, Pa. schools

January 8, 2013 2:37:26 PM PST
The Reading School District is scrambling to figure out how to deal with a multi-million dollar budget mistake.

At a Reading School District emergency board meeting on Monday night, administrators outlined what's next to solve the nearly $16 million budget problem.

"Not only my children, but all the children in the school district are a concern, because are their services going to be met?" parent Eddie Moran said.

A few weeks ago, an audit found an accounting error was made for the 2010-2011 fiscal year and $15.6-million the school system thought it had, never existed.

"It hurts our community and for that I'm frustrated and I'm angry," Reading School District Board Vice President Pierre V. Cooper said.

There were rumors the district of 18,000 children wouldn't be able to pay its workforce of 2000 in March but payroll will be met.

The new superintendent says there will be immediate belt tightening and a search for revenue sources like grants or state help.

The CFO who is also new on the job says there will be targeted cuts, but he wouldn't say what or who would be slashed.

"Everything is on the table; I can't tell you specifically because nothing has been specifically decided," CFO Robert A. Peters said.

For legal reasons, many board members were not pointing fingers.

Former business manager John Steffy who quit in 2011 was in charge of the budget when auditors say the mistake was made.

"Those people who are responsible for this mess should be held accountable, but you have board members in there when this was happening," Brian Sanguinito, the president of the Reading Education Association, the union that represents staff, said.

"How could they make a mistake that large? That's my concern," parent Willow Wagner said to Action News earlier Monday.

The district says it's too early to talk about an investigation into the budget mistake.

The CFO says over the next few days and weeks they'll be coming up with solutions to solve this problem by the new budget year which starts July 1st.